The first weekend of the 2013 NFL season is finally here, so here are the teams that will beat the odds in their season opener.
Picking teams in the opening week isn't an exact science, and even the experts have a tough time getting the odds right. Playing at home is often overvalued.
The opening weekend will feature many intriguing matchups. Fans are wondering which team will surprise everyone and make a run at the playoffs after starting the season with a victory.
Here is a full schedule of Week 1 followed by predictions of which teams will beat the odds. All lines provided by Bovada as of 10:45 p.m. ET, Sept. 5.
Cincinnati Bengals (+3)
After making consecutive postseasons, the Cincinnati Bengals are starting the 2013 season as underdogs against the Chicago Bears. However, the Bears are only favored because the game is being played at Soldier Field.
Cincinnati has the better team on paper, and it will come away with a victory.
Chicago has an explosive passing game. Jay Cutler has a strong arm, but he is prone to make mistakes. He has never had a full season with fewer than 14 interceptions.
Brandon Marshall had 1,508 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 118 receptions last season, so the Bengals will be focusing on stopping him. Leon Hall has turned into a great corner, and he will contain Marshall.
Alshon Jeffery is a talented receiver, but the Bengals have players who can cover him. Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones have both shown the ability to handle receivers, and they will be able to frustrate the second-year player.
Cincinnati ranked seventh in the NFL in pass defense and had 14 interceptions last season. Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap are going to pressure Cutler and force him to make bad decisions. The defense ranked third with 51 sacks, and they will continue to get to the quarterback.
The Bengals also ranked 12th in the NFL in run defense, so they will be able to limit Matt Forte's impact on the ground.
On offense, Cincinnati has plenty of talent. A.J. Green has turned into an elite receiver and can catch anything thrown his way. Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert will provide Andy Dalton will explosive options at tight end.
The Bears are a good team, but the Bengals are better. Cincinnati will leave Soldier Field with a victory on their way to another playoff appearance.
Arizona Cardinals (+4.5)
The biggest upset of the week will be provided by the Arizona Cardinals, who play at the St. Louis Rams. This is a team that shocked everyone by starting last season 4-0 but collapsed and went 1-11 to finish the season at 5-11.
A lot has changed in the desert. Bruce Arians, who won Coach of the Year with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, has taken over in Arizona. He brings an aggressive style of offense that will be led by new quarterback Carson Palmer.
The 33-year-old put up strong numbers even without having great weapons to work with in Oakland. He threw for over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. They aren't great numbers, but they are more than respectable given his situation.
Now he will get the opportunity to work with Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Last year was the first time since 2007 that the 30-year-old did not have 1,000 yards. He also had only four touchdowns, which was the lowest total of his career. Arizona was a mess at quarterback, so it's understandable that his numbers were down.
Michael Floyd will show why he was drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft, and Andre Roberts is a playmaker as well.
St. Louis was an average team when it came to pass defense. Giving Palmer explosive playmakers in a dome will be tough to stop.
With Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson and rookie Tyrann Mathieu, the Cardinals will have a pair of talented players in the secondary.
The Rams have rookie Tavon Austin and tight end Jared Cook on offense. However, they lost receiver Danny Amendola and running back Steven Jackson. Replacing a player who ran for 1,000 yards in every season since his rookie year will be tough.
Arians took a Colts team from 2-14 to the playoffs last season. He has offensive players to work with, so keep an eye on this team. Nobody expects much out of Arizona, so this is the perfect game for the Cardinals to surprise everyone.
New York Giants (+3)
The Giants are 4-0 at AT&T Field, or Cowboys Stadium, so it's surprising to see the Cowboys are favorites in this game.
Tony Romo has Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten to throw to. Those are all good playmakers, but they have always had trouble being on the same page. Dallas has one of the most talented offenses in the league on paper, but it continues to underachieve.
New York, on the other hand, gets the most out of its players—when they are healthy.
Hakeem Nicks is a force at wideout when he is on the field. It's Week 1, so the Giants will be able to have him on the field in this game. He had more than 1,000 yards and at least 11 touchdowns in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons before injuries limited him to 13 games last season.
With Nicks in the lineup, Victor Cruz is able to stretch the field. The 26-year-old has turned into one of the league's best deep threats. He has had at least 1,000 yards and at least nine touchdowns in both of his seasons in the NFL.
Eli Manning is an elite quarterback. He has a pair of great receivers to work with, and he can exploit Dallas' secondary.
The Cowboys were an average pass defense in terms of yards, but they ranked last in the league with only seven interceptions. Dallas ranked 20th in the league in sacks, so Manning should have plenty of time to throw.
Since the new stadium opened, the Giants have owned the Cowboys. Their four victories at AT&T Field have come by a combined 16 points. They haven't been dominant, but they have found ways to get the win. All that matters is the final score.
New York will go into Dallas and will leave with a perfect 5-0 record at AT&T Field.
*All stats are courtesy of NFL.com
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